The Weekly Round-Up #266 With Deadly Class #10, Ant-Man #1, The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead #4, X-O Manowar #31 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Deadly Class #10 – Rick Remender and Wes Craig have been making a pretty dark comic, but this issue actually had me laughing out loud as Marcus had to put in a shift at the comic store while being terribly hung-over and wracked with teen drama guilt.  From there, the book gets serious again as the crew from Vegas make their raid on Marcus’s old enemy’s family home in order to protect their secrets.  It doesn’t go well.  This title is brilliant, and this is one of the best issues yet.  Wes Craig is incredible.

Quick Takes:

Amazing Spider-Man #12 – I don’t normally buy Amazing Spider-Man, but I got caught up on Spider-Verse over the holidays, and have been enjoying the story so much that I decided to stick around for the rest of it.  There’s a lot of stuff going on in this issue, especially since Dan Slott feels the need to check in on the other books crossing into this story (2099, Spider-Woman).  Still, it’s nice to read an event story so well structured, and with such a sense of excitement about it.  This is good work.

Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #2 – A lot of stuff gets explained in this issue, as we learn why the Asgardians are chasing Angela, and how her first meeting with her mother went in Asgardia (hint: not well).  I don’t know that we needed another two-page explanation of how Heven’s approach to barter works, but the rest of this issue made me a little curious about the character.  I like the way the story is being split between two creative teams, especially when the artists involved are Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans.  I think I might be sticking with this title, at least for as long as Kieron Gillen’s writing it.

Ant-Man #1Despite the ridiculous $5 price tag, I was curious to see if Nick Spencer was going to repeat the great success he had with Superior Foes of Spider-Man in another off-beat Marvel title.  I liked this comic, but there were a couple continuity issues that really affected my enjoyment of it.  To begin with, Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie (the Young Avenger called Stature), who has recently returned from the dead has been de-aged to a middle school student who apparently doesn’t have any powers, or any memory of her time as a superhero, although that’s not what we saw in Axis.  As well, Scott’s girlfriend Darla is nowhere to be seen, nor is Scott’s ex-wife’s new husband.  This is a family with enough history in the Marvel universe that they can’t be easily retconned away, although that’s apparently what’s happened here.  Leaving all of that aside, I liked Spencer’s writing, as he has Scott try out for a job working security for Tony Stark.  An impossible task leads to his having to break into Stark’s apartment, while the Beetle (from Superior Foes!) tries things her own way.  Stark doesn’t seem particularly evil, or even ‘Superior’ here, again making me feel like this book is pretty detached from the rest of the Marvel U.  I’m likely to pick up the next issue, but would like to see these inconsistencies addressed (my guess is that Marvel is trying to align to the story in a movie that hasn’t even come out yet).

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #3 – Marco Rudy continues to prove me right in championing his art to anyone who will listen.  This book is absolutely gorgeous, as Bucky works to seduce the queen of a world of pacifist telepaths who he is supposed to kill.  Other people are after Bucky, and I was a little surprised to see a Marvel villain who keeps showing up all over the place lately.  Rudy’s art is amazing, of course, with a lot of stunning full-page spreads.  Michael Walsh draws a few pages, and while his style is completely different, it works because of the way Ales Kot has structured the story.  I’m really not all that sure I understand what this book is about, and have a hard time seeing it last for very long while staying this unconventional, but I intend to love every page of this book while it’s still around.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #4It’s been a while since the last issue came out, and that leads us to the usual problem I have with Joe Casey’s work when he falls behind.  Casey is writing this mini-series for the trade, and that means that it’s a little hard to keep track of all the different sub-plots going on in this book sometimes.  It’s fun to see him play around with a lesser Kirby creation, but I wonder if he’s being a little too ambitious, without taking enough time to make me care about the story.

Elephantmen #61 – As much as I like and respect Richard Starkings and Axel Medellin’s work on Elephantmen, I often find it to be pretty frustrating.  This issue is made up mostly of two-page splash pages that show Hip and Obadiah fighting, without any backgrounds.  The second half of the issue show Sahara’s attempt to infiltrate her own wedding, and running into her father and his goons in the process.  Starkings has been building to the events of this issue and the next for a long time, and I get that he wants it to look momentous, but it results in a pretty quick read.

Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #3 – Peter Milligan and Cary Nord wrap up their three-part story set in the times of Magyar expansion quite well.  In all, this storyline wasn’t as impressive as Greg Pak’s recent work with this character, but I like the way Milligan established that the tension between Gilad and the Geomancer has been around for a long time.

The Fade Out #4Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have turned their considerable talents to this story, set in 1940s Hollywood, about a screenwriter who has stumbled into a murder cover up.  A lot of things start to become clear in this issue, as he begins to remember some of the particulars about the evening that started this whole story, and we as readers begin to get a sense of what all is going on.  Brubaker works to fit this story into established Hollywood history, as Charlie attends a PR-organized event and runs into his old friend Clark Gable.  This is a pretty fascinating comic, as is always the case when Brubaker and Phillips work together.

Hellboy and the BPRD #2 – We continue to look into Hellboy’s first mission with the BPRD, in some small Brazilian town.  He faces off against an Anchunga, an ape-like monster, who has killed the local priest, while the rest of the team is given cause to suspect a filmmaker of being involved in the town’s problems.  This is a solid issue with nice art by Alex Maleev, and an unexpected cliffhanger ending.

Hinterkind #14 – The flashback arc brings us up through the early days of the plague to Prosper’s childhood, showing a little more about Jon Hobb’s relationship with the rest of the Sidhe.  I’ve liked this look back on things, but would rather get back to where the story left off, as this series was really beginning to heat up.

The Humans #3 – With each of its first three issues, The Humans has shown a lot of improvement, with this being the best issue yet.  After a night of debauchery, Johnny is reliving some of his experiences in Vietnam, while also getting his head around what The Humans motorcycle club are up to, including developing a new hallucinogen.  I love the way artist Tom Neely blends Johnny’s ‘Nam flashbacks with his current surroundings, giving this story a very trippy feel.  The entire conceit of all the characters being apes doesn’t even feel necessary; this is becoming a very rewarding comic.

Men of Wrath #4Jason Aaron and Ron Garney’s dark and violent look at a very messed-up family is getting near its end, and has the two Rath men hash things out at gunpoint.  The older Rath is supposed to kill his son for his gangster boss, but now the son is the one who has the upper hand.  This series is the closest Aaron has come to repeating the psychological strength he found in Scalped, and as such, is my favourite thing he’s written since that title ended.

Ody-C #2 – The first issue of Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s female-oriented science fiction retelling of the Odyssey didn’t exactly grab me, despite my being impressed with its scope and incredible artwork.  This second issue is better, as we meet Zeus and discover why she got rid of all the men, learn what the Sebexes are, and get a better feel for just who Odyssia is.  This book is stunning, and is giving me more reason to have confidence in it.  I know it’s only a matter of time before its schedule gets shot to hell though (I’m not sure who is more likely to make it late, as both Fraction and Ward are notorious for not meeting deadlines), and that makes me a little hesitant to commit to it.

The Punisher #14 – Having got caught up on this title too, I was interested enough in what was going on to pick up this new issue.  I’d expected Frank’s big confrontation with the Howling Commandos to go down differently, as I’m sure he did too.  Nathan Edmondson and Mitch Gerads are doing some good stuff with this book.

Secret Avengers #11 – Ales Kot starts to pull together all the different threads of his story as Snapper makes his move, and it looks like it’s up to Vladimir the Bomb and The Fury to save Nick Fury Jr. while Coulson and Hawkeye have a strange chat with MODOK in a jungle.  This series has been pretty bizarre since it started, but it’s nice to see that Kot did have a plan here.  I imagine that this series will end at the end of this five-part arc, and will probably never be referenced in another Marvel comic again…

The Sixth Gun: Days of the Dead #4Despite it having art by Mike Norton and it being a spin-off of the excellent Sixth Gun series, Days of the Dead is really just not working for me.  I like the idea of seeing an earlier adventure featuring the Knights of Solomon and the Sword of Abraham, but nowhere near enough was done to make me care about these characters, and now that the book is running ever later, I am quickly losing all interest.  Perhaps in a trade this story would work a lot better.

Swamp Thing #38 – It’s unfortunate that Charles Soule has felt the need to drag Anton Arcane back into this series, as I absolutely hate that character.  At the same time, Soule has done such a great job of building up this storyline, which has a coalition of avatars coming after Swamp Thing and Abigail, that it only makes sense to toss Arcane back in the mix.  I’m really going to miss this title when Soule leaves.

Trees #8 – Warren Ellis has spent the last seven issues building up a number of different characters, and giving us a good look at a pretty unique concept for a science fiction world.  Now he spends most of this issue tearing a lot of that down, as the Chinese government attacks the walled city around their tree, as Luca’s protege shows she is ready to take over The Great Work, and as the poppies growing in the Arctic broadcast their message.  I haven’t seen any new issues of this book solicited lately, but I assume the series is taking a hiatus before beginning the next story arc.  I know that I’m very much looking forward to seeing where Ellis takes this book next.

The Woods #9 – This issue has a big shift in tone, as we end up in the town of New London, peopled by the descendants of various others who have ended up on this strange planet over the years.  The kids are guests, as is their Coach, although they don’t know what kind of stuff he pulled back at the school after they left, giving everything he does a sinister air.  I can see how writer James Tynion IV is setting this series up for the long game, and am interested in seeing where it all leads.  As always, Tynion is focusing on the personalities of the kids, and that is what makes this book so strong.

X-Men #23I had high hopes for G. Willow Wilson’s debut on this X-title, but I’m not sure that enough happened in her first issue to give me any real indication of what to expect from her run.  Gambit is at a Burning Man-type event, picking up girls, when he comes across a very strange storm, which causes him to call the X-Men to get Storm out to investigate (at which point, Gambit just kind of disappears).  The usual team for this book shows up, and Storm has trouble managing the storm, and once again, ends up underground.  Wilson is using some of the series tropes that Brian Wood set up, namely the slightly antagonistic interactions between Storm and Rachel, but again, there’s not enough space to say much else about her use of the characters.  Roland Boschi is a good artist, but there’s nothing too spectacular going on in that department.  I hope that the next issue is a little more fulfilling.

X-O Manowar #31 – I find this book flounders a little between events, and the set-up of this issue, which is otherwise done well, proves me correct.  Aric has to submit to having his armor scanned by the UN, but they send in a genius industrialist to do the job, and he is, of course, evil and greedy.  Valiant is pushing this as the return of the Armorines, one of their older properties, but those are not actually characters in this comic; they are just armored suits piloted by nameless and replaceable characters.  I don’t see it spinning off into a new property like this.

Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:

All-New X-Factor #19

Batman Eternal #40

Death of Wolverine: Weapon X Program #5

Detective Comics #38

Fairest #33

Legendary Star-Lord #7

Legends of the Dark Knight 100-Page Super Spectacular #5

Lobo #4

Miracleman #14

Names #5

Spider-Man 2099 #7

Storm #7

War Stories #4

Wolf Moon #2

Wolverines #1

Bargain Comics:

Batman Eternal #4-10As I continue to read this title, I think I’ve hit the rough patch I remember people talking about when the series began.  Batman is running all over the place trying to stop the gang war between Falcone and the Penguin, and is receiving no help from the GCPD, so he takes off to Hong Kong to research Falcone’s past?  It didn’t really fit, aside from being an excuse to use the Bat-Man of Japan for an issue.  The issue scripted by Tim Seeley and drawn by Trevor McCarthy that introduces Jim Corrigan is pretty terrible; I had a hard time following the story, and found inconsistencies throughout.  Still, I’ve heard this title gets a lot better, so I’m going to stick with it.

Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #1-4 – I picked this up on the strength of Charles Soule’s name, and I did find it pretty interesting, as it follows the escapees from the Paradise facility where Logan died.  I feel like this exact type of book has been done before (and may even have been called Weapon X when it was), but Soule is a very good writer, and so he is able to do some interesting things with these characters, who were experimented on, and have gained new abilities.  Strangely, these are the same characters who were seen at the beginning of the Logan Legacy mini-series, and I’m not all that clear how, in the one issue that is left in this book, they are going to go from their current situation (on the run) to having the ability to abduct people like X-23 and Mystique, considering that all of this stuff has to fit between Original Sin and Axis, continuity-wise.

New Warriors #3-11 – It’s a shame that this title couldn’t find more of an audience, because the work that Chris Yost and Marcus To (with some other artists) are doing is really pretty good.  They have a good handle on the established characters in this title, and are building up the newer characters to be pretty interesting.  Too much of the series focuses on the High Evolutionary, but the introduction of the Eternals into the mix towards the end is pretty interesting.  The Inhuman stuff is dull, but that’s kind of what I’ve come to expect from any book that buys into the whole the ‘Inhumanity’ thing.  

 

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